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Never Say Never on Your Path to Parenthood

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a blog by Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW, May 20, 2010

I had always heard the expression “never say never,” but it wasn't until I was knee deep in the world of infertility that I came to fully appreciate how “right on” it is.

Working with infertile couples I advise them not only to “never say never,” but to listen carefully when you think someone else is saying “never.” This is especially challenging when that “someone else” is your husband or wife. The stakes are high. “Never” can sound very scary. But again listen carefully because more likely than not, what you are hearing is actually “not yet.”

When I say “never say never,” two former clients jump to mind. They are both women who were diagnosed with premature ovarian failure in their late twenties. Each is now a mother — one to twins through egg donation and the other, to a boy and a girl through adoption from Korea. Each initially reacted with “I'll never . . ." and took nearly ten years from diagnosis to diapers.

During that time they distracted themselves with other things and they interrmittently examined their options. I can recall a gradual shift with each from “never,” to “well, maybe” to “this is beginning to sound o.k.” to full embrace of an option they once rejected.

Are they happy and content now? You bet. But was it easy? No. And did it sound, at the start as if they would ever pursue an alternative path to parenthood? Sure didn't.

Infertility is, as they say, “a journey.” It’s a journey that people need to travel at their own pace. When they face options and decisions too early in their travels, many are quick to say, “No,””Not me,” “I can’t do that,” “I won’t do that.” They can even say, “I’ll never do that.”

They are expressing their feelings of fear, anger, frustration and unpreparedness.

As time passes and perspectives change, the unthinkable begins to offer some appeal, the unfamiliar becomes familiar, the “that is not for me,” becomes, “well maybe it could work for me.”

I am happy to report that some of the people who seemed most inclined to say “never” — or at least a strong, emphatic, “not yet,” went on to be the happiest, most unexpectedly joyful parents.

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